Old-age income security

Living standards often decline for people at older ages. Reduced economic opportunities and deteriorating health status frequently increase vulnerability to poverty as people age. Such conditions vary greatly, however, across contexts and groups of older persons and livelihood strategies tend to differ accordingly. In developed economies, the main source of livelihood and protection shifts from employment to pension income as one reaches a given retirement age. In developing countries, few have access to pensions and most have to rely on other sources of income. In fact, 80 per cent of the world’s population do not have sufficient protection in old age to enable them to face health, disability and income risks (International Labour Organization, 2002). This would mean that in developing countries alone, about 342 million older persons currently lack adequate income security. That number would rise to 1.2 billion by 2050, if the coverage of current mechanisms designed to provide old-age income security is not expanded. The demographic transition poses an enormous challenge with respect to ensuring the availability and sustainability of pensions and other systems providing economic security for an ever-larger number of older persons in both developed and developing countries.

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